Rich and I have a good marriage. Yeah, we fight occasionally like anyone else, but we readily admit we're soul mates. The Holy Spirit brought us together. Most everyone around us recognizes it—even a United flight attendant, who remarked how much fun we seemed to be having as a couple.
That's all dandy, right? Well, sure, as long as your friends are in the same boat. Unfortunately, some of our couple friends are not only in a different boat, they're in a completely opposite mode of transportation. Race cars heading for a wall come to mind, or airplanes sputtering gasless, trying to make it to the runway.
Of course Rich and I try to set a good example about marriage, but after awhile I start to feel like I'm flaunting my good "fortune" in front of our friends who are struggling. I sense myself giving Rich less affection when we're with these troubled couples, and I try to limit my talk of our duo-driven life. Still, friends ask in confidence what they should do about their failing marriages. What am I to answer? "Go back 20 years and marry someone else"? Not likely.
Instead, my stock response has been: "Do you have something to get back to?" By that, I mean was there a time in the marriage that the person truly was fulfilled? If so, what was going on then? And more important, can the couple return to those activities or somehow bring their lives back to those patterns?
For example, one friend was lamenting to me what she saw as the coming end of her marriage. "We just don't have anything in common anymore," Gwen said. "I was a different person 15 years ago. I've changed, and Tim hasn't changed with me."1